* Keep a pen and paper ready so that you can write down the relevant instructions. * Make sure all your medical records are at hand, so that you can answer questions about your medical problem intelligently and accurately. * Identify yourself properly, giving your full name as well as your diagnosis (try not to tax your doctor's memory!). * Ask if you can take a few minutes of the doctor's time now, or whether you should call back again - this is common courtesy! * Report specific symptoms. For example, rather than just saying, 'I don't feel well, or I've got the flu,' which can be interpreted in different ways, be prepared to describe your symptoms precisely; for instance, fever, sore throat, cough, and/or body ache. Similarly, instead of just saying, 'my baby has a fever' specify the exact temperature and the duration of the fever as well as other signs or symptoms. * When you don't know what you need (for example, you may not be sure how serious the illness is, i.e., if you require a visit to the clinic), tell the staff you're uncertain and request that you speak to a nurse or the doctor's assistant over the phone. Don't be hesitant; if you're feeling concerned or anxious, let the clinic staff know. * Don't insist on talking only to the doctor every time you call. For example, if you just need to make an appointment, or merely clarify a doubt, the nursing staff or receptionist may be able to help you. To put it differently: respect your doctor's time! * Don't misuse the phone by trying to wangle a free consultation. Not only is this act unfair to the doctor, but also such a consultation is likely to be very unreliable!
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Our focus areas now are:
1. encouraging health insurance companies to invest in patient education
2. advocating information therapy
3. setting up a national network of patient education centers
4. developing patient educational materials in Indian languages for the web